A purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback is a proud sight: Descended from domesticated Khoi-Khoi (also known as Hottentot) breeds, the South African giant takes on even large predators without ever showing fear. The protectors with the reverse eel line are not entirely undemanding, but with the right training, they make very good family dogs.
Features of the Ridge at a Glance – Hunting Dog with a Unique Crest
There are only three dog breeds in the world with a so-called ridge – the hair on the back grows in the opposite direction of the line and visually forms a slight crest. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is known for this trait, which by 2008 was the undoing of many puppies without a “Ridge.” With an average height at the withers of 63 to 69 cm for males and 61 to 66 cm for females, they are not among the largest dog breeds, but they make an imposing appearance. The ideal weight of 36.5 cm is specified for males. According to the FCI breed standard, bitches should weigh around 32 kilograms.
The Ridgeback from head to tail
- The head is about as wide as it is long, with a flat forehead and a well-marked stop.
- The muzzle is quite long in relation to the skull and covered by tight lips. Its jaw is extremely strong with a vertical scissor bite for grabbing. The nose can be black or liver/brown.
- The eyes are round and set quite far apart. Their color should match the color of their nose (black = dark eyes, brown = amber eyes).
- The lop ears lie close to the head and are rounded at the tips. The base is quite wide and tapers only slightly towards the tip.
- The long neck merges into a very strong back. Overall, the body doesn’t look too broad (never barrel-shaped) and is still extremely muscular.
- Forelegs appear wider when viewed from the side than from the front. The position of the shoulders should “intimate great speed”.
- The tail is very strong at the base and is carried slightly curved. She should never wriggle.
Coat and color of the Ridgeback
Ridgebacks are immediately recognizable by their coat color and hair structure. They only come in wheat colors. Their close-lying fur is very short and smooth, it can hardly be brushed against the direction of growth.
- White markings on the chest and toes are allowed but should not take up too much area.
- The muzzle and the ears may stand out darkly.
- The proportion of black hair in the fur must not be too high.
Historical Facts and Myths about the Rhodesian Ridgeback
Little is known about the origin of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. What is certain is that in colonial times native breeds with ridges were crossed with European hounds. Mastiffs, Great Danes, and Greyhounds are believed to have helped create the breed. The ancestors of today’s Ridgebacks were used for a variety of purposes:
- In the Khoi-Khoi culture, ridgebacks protected settlements and villages in groups and assisted the people in hunting.
- Colonials used Ridgebacks to guard plantations and mansions.
- They were also used to hunt big game. Lions, zebras, and other large mammals tracked them down over long distances and held them
Disadvantages of strict breeding selection
The breed standard of the Ridgeback has always included its special dorsal streak. Puppies without this trait were also culled in Europe, as dictated by the official British breed standard. It wasn’t until 2008 when the investigative documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed publicly exposed the practice, that the systematic killing of puppies was abandoned. The breed’s gene pool is very limited due to strict breeding selection.
The gentle nature of the lion hunter
Although ridgebacks were also bred to hunt, they are known to be quiet and reserved. Fear is a foreign word to proud Ridge – he bravely faces any threat and rarely gets nervous even in unfamiliar surroundings. His character, like his appearance, is proud and dignified. He meets strangers with skepticism or indifference, although he never becomes aggressive without reason.
Four-Legged Friend with Many Talents
- Ridgebacks make excellent watchdogs, deterring potential attackers with their looks and reputation as lion hunters.
- They are capable hunters, although they are rarely used for hunting today. Their natural hunting instinct is limited.
- Due to their well-developed sense of smell, they can also be used as rescue dogs or assistance dogs for diabetics.
- They also do well in professional dog sports.
A savannah runner with alacrity
Ridgebacks have tremendous endurance and are free to roam their homeland’s vast farms and wild terrain. They, therefore, need a lot of exercises and long active phases during the day. They cannot live in a species-appropriate manner in small city apartments. A house with a garden or a country yard would be ideal for keeping a family dog.
Conclusion: The Rhodesian Ridgeback is Rightly Popular
- Well-behaved Ridgies make very gentle family dogs. However, inexperienced owners can easily be overwhelmed with training.
- Because they are currently in high demand, you should not accept any offers for puppies from the internet or support dubious hobby breeders.
- If you’re comfortable with dog training, you should consider adopting a Ridge from the ER. Agents are always looking for foster homes and new owners for homeless lion dogs.